Airlines in Europe

Aug 11th, 2008, 03:53 PM
  #1  
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Airlines in Europe

Are the airlines in Europe being cut and charging for every little thing like the ones in America?
Thanks
mike_b12 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2008, 04:02 PM
  #2  
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Charging for every little thing was widespread in Europe on low cost airlines long before it arrived in the US.

So far it seems as though legacy airlines in Europe aren't following suit. I expect that will change once they see the revenue opportunities US airlines are starting to realize.
J62 is online now  
Aug 11th, 2008, 10:38 PM
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Some do, some don't.

You can't generalise about anything in Europe: Aer Lingus behaves like a low-cost on intra-European flights, charging for eberything including seat selection, but like a legacy carrier across the Atlantic.

Personally, I doubt the major legacy carriers will ever chisel as much as the low-costs. Competition works differently in Europe: legacy carriers can rarely depend on frequent-flyer miles, or monopoly access to a market, to compete with the low-costs. So the three majors (BA, Air France and Lufthansa) see the sheer irritation caused by all the low costs' extra charges as a competitive weapon.

One interesting twist on service cutbacks. Obviously, all airlines reduce their flights as demand falls. However, at Europe's busiest airport, Heathrow, ownership of a slot is a major part of many airlines' assets: Continental is reported to have squandered $209 million (that wasn't a misprint, and boy am I glad I'm not a shareholder) on four Heathrow slots last year. But if you don't use those slots, you lose them.

So, as passenger numbers start dropping - or at any rate not growing as fast as you told your bank they would when you borrowed all those squillions for new planes - some airlines either have to fly almost empty or admit to their auditors the Heathrow slots have to be written down in the books. Which gets reported to shareholders as a trading loss, and does nasty things to head honchos' bonuses.

Tough, eh?
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 12th, 2008, 01:27 AM
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"So the three majors see the sheer irritation caused by all the low costs' extra charges as a competitive weapon."

I would agree strongly with this. Although I have used Ryanair, BMI etc , and would use them again, my recent trips from UK to Italy have all been on BA for the simple reason that once I have included all the "Extras", the BA flights have been competitive and have the advantage of better baggage allowance and more civilised departure times.

willit is offline  
Aug 12th, 2008, 02:47 AM
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Some do, some don't.

This about sums it up. In addition to Aer Lingus, SAS (and their associated airlines, like Spanair) also behaves like a low-cost carrier in many ways.

However, while food and drink are free, other cuts or charges are much more common among the European airlines. The biggest ones that come to my mind would be:

- Most of the majors have very low rates of FF mileage accrual for many or even most economy tickets.
- Seat assignments are, for the most part, not available to the average coach passenger.
- Luggage allowances are low (20 kg), and more rigidly enforced. These low allowances even apply on many long-haul routes, such as to Asia. And the excess fees can add up to be significantly more than the second bag fees charged by the US carriers.
- Carry-on restrictions are officially lower - very low in many cases. Enforcement varies, but it does exist.
- Frequent Flyer tickets are usually charged the full fuel surcharge, as well as all taxes and fees. For a trans-Atlantic ticket, you will usually find yourself spending hundreds of dollars more for FF tickets with European programs.
- Intra-European premium cabins are kind of pathetic, compared to US domestic first class.

All in all, I think the value proposition is roughly similar. And, other than free food, there is not much "extra" that you get from most of the European carriers, as compared to the US carriers. If anything, I would say that the FF mile situation tilts the value scales in favor of the US carriers, for now.
travelgourmet is online now  
Aug 12th, 2008, 02:50 AM
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Yes, the European airlines are cutting back somewhat as well, but not as radically as the American carriers (yet).

If the recession is confirmed, there will certainly be more cutbacks.
kerouac is online now  
Aug 12th, 2008, 03:09 AM
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Austrian Airlines still operates with the legacy carrier mentality.

Generous baggage allowances, meals, seat assignment, childrens gifts etc. I love them....but it won't be like that for much longer.
Lawchick is offline  
Aug 12th, 2008, 03:20 AM
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Ryanair is the world leader in getting money out of the mugs - sorry passengers.

They haven't yet started putting coin slots on the toilets - but it's only a matter of time.
alanRow is offline  
Aug 12th, 2008, 03:42 AM
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Austrian Airlines still operates with the legacy carrier mentality.

Generous baggage allowances, meals, seat assignment, childrens gifts etc.


I think you might be confusing their long-haul service with their intra-Europe service? Certainly, the baggage allowance is strictly industry-standard - 20kgs for most destinations and 2x23kgs to North and South America. This is pretty much the norm for all carriers across the Atlantic. Where Austrian does shine, though, is their meal service, which is quite good.

Yes, the European airlines are cutting back somewhat as well, but not as radically as the American carriers (yet).

Only because they had less room to cut. I mean, what are the major complaints coming from the US public these days? High fuel surcharges? The Euro legacies have those. Substantial fees for "free" tickets? The Euros have them beat. Paying for seat assignments? Seat assignments of any sort have largely gone the way of the dodo bird in Europe. Second bag fees? Europeans have been getting by with largely similar restrictions for some time.

If the perks at the US carriers are eroding, it is only to a point where they match many of the European carriers. I think that, when you compare apples to apples, that there is not that much difference between the two. At best, you get free alcohol and a free meal on a short-haul Euro carrier, but I think a sandwich and a glass of wine is hardly a major difference. Of course, there are some good European carriers - I like BA (but hate their FF program), for example - but there are enough middling Euro carriers (SAS, Lufthansa, Swiss, KLM) and enough bad ones (Aer Lingus, Spanair, TAP, Alitalia, KLM at times) to suggest that it is the airline that makes the difference, not the country of origin.
travelgourmet is online now  
Aug 12th, 2008, 07:20 AM
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Willit - I'm surprised to hear BA is competitive between UK and Italy.

I've never paid more than £40-45 for a return flight (- to Rome or Venice) over the last few years.

Are you saying BA can undercut that?? I've never even considered them ...

Steve
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Aug 12th, 2008, 01:45 PM
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I just know from past flights on SABENA, Austrian Air and even Cross air. We were treated so well. On short flights we were fed a nice meal and wine or beer if we wanted it for no charge!
mike_b12 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2008, 12:01 AM
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Steve - my last few flights have been into and out of Pisa, on either Saturday or Sunday, and have cost me around £50-60 as I was able to book some time in advance. I have found that over the weekend the budget airlines are frequently more expensive than the scheduled carriers.

I am flying into Naples later this year, again on a saturday, and it was significantly cheaper flying BA than BMI (which I have used in the past) or Easyjet. I could have saved some money by flying Easyjet into Rome Ciampino and then using the train to Naples, but the extra travelling time was not worth the +_£25 difference in fares.

willit is offline  
Aug 13th, 2008, 12:22 AM
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I just know from past flights on SABENA, Austrian Air and even Cross air. We were treated so well. On short flights we were fed a nice meal and wine or beer if we wanted it for no charge!

SABENA? Cross Air? You might as well compare your experience to Pan Am. The experience on those airlines was much, much more about the era than the airlines, themselves. And it is interesting to note that both of those airlines no longer exist, and that the ones which replaced them have very ordinary service levels.
travelgourmet is online now  
Aug 13th, 2008, 12:46 AM
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Sabena is now Brussels Airlines and they have quite good service and are quite good value. I'm very happy with them.

Regarding Austrian Airlines, I was referring to their European service, but did not word my sentence very well. What I meant by generous baggage allowance is really that they don't seem to weigh the bags and rush to charge you excess. I travel with them regularly, often with masses of luggage......and I have never been charged extra.

They are always very kind and helpful and they have a "family check-in" in Vienna, which is really good for the families but also for the other passengers who aren't held up behind someone like me with a baby/buggy/car seat/ masses of luggage etc.
Lawchick is offline  
Aug 13th, 2008, 01:32 AM
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Sabena is now Brussels Airlines and they have quite good service and are quite good value. I'm very happy with them.

I have nothing against Brussels Airlines, either, but the question was about cuts and extra charges. In that regard, Brussels has cut just as much as any US airline.
- You don't get free meals or drinks in economy (you have to buy an economy + ticket).
- The 20kg limit is roughly similar to the 1 checked bag limit.
- They charge booking fees for most origins, even when booked online.
- The change fee for a normal economy ticket is €60, and subject to the same rules as your typical US carrier.
- No seat assignments for coach passengers.

Everyone has their favorite carriers. They may be European or American. But the objective answer to a question about whether European airlines, generally, have cut services/perks and have gravitated toward extra fees on a level similar to US carriers, generally, is "yes".
travelgourmet is online now  
Aug 13th, 2008, 02:50 AM
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I used to fly sabena and they were pretty good but then the usual disappear and gobbled up by another. Ryanair is going to start only carry on baggage flights. I can't cope with htis...I always shop when travel!
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